The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 28, 2013

Perch poacher can’t fish for three years

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — A Pennsylvania fisherman is looking for a new hobby after he admitted taking an illegal number of yellow perch from Lake Erie earlier this month, according to Conneaut Municipal Court records.

Lawrence Grundler, 56, of Pittsburgh, lost all fishing privileges for three years in a sentence handed down by Judge Thomas Harris. In addition, Grundler was ordered to pay $250 and costs, given a 30-day jail sentence (conditionally suspended) and told to reimburse the state $780 in restitution — $20 for each of the 39 fish that exceeded the state limit.

He pleaded guilty to the charge, but argued the three-year suspension, asking Harris to consider a one-year ban instead, a court spokeswoman said.

Grundler was cited for overpossession of fish, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 2 by officers with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. He was caught with 69 yellow perch, more than double the daily limit of 30 fish, according to court records.

Grundler ran afoul of a special enforcement unit, based in Sandusky, that keeps tabs on commercial fishing on Lake Erie, said Peter Novotny, wildlife officer supervisor for the ODW’s District 3. “They make thousands of contacts a year along the lakeshore to monitor commercial fishing,” he said Friday.

Different fish carry different value when fines are considered, officials said. Yellow perch is among the more valuable and results in a higher penalty for violators, officials said.

Traditionally, the ODNR processes the fish it confiscates and donates it to a local charity, Novotny said.